4 Simple Exam Techniques to Help You Succeed

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Amy studied at the University of Bristol and is our revision blog guru. She only graduated recently so understands the pressures of being a student better than most, and is here to share her wisdom so that you revise effectively, smash your exams, succeed at school and write cracking university and job applications.

There is often a lot riding on exam results, which means the exam period can be a stressful and overwhelming time, whether it’s university entry requirements, sixth form places, or job prospects that you’re working towards.

The pressure will be there whether you like it or not; it’s how you deal with it that will make the crucial difference. From A-Level Maths (see our past papers here) to GCSE Biology to IGCSE Chemistry, keeping a clear head is key. Read on for our tips on keeping your cool, so that you do yourself proud in the exam room this summer.

1. Focus on the exam at hand

Sometimes when you’re revising, reminding yourself of what you’re aiming for can help you stay motivated. But when it comes to the actual exam, take this context out of your head and just focus on the task at hand.

The bigger picture – such as university plans, entry requirements, internships and career aspirations – might only freak you out, so as soon as you sit down just block all this noise out. It’s just you, your pen and your exam paper that matter for the duration of the exam, so stay focused and concentrate on doing what you’ve practiced.

2. Get to the heart of the exam question

When it comes to exams, examiners are looking for depth and understanding rather than breadth and waffle, so show them that you know what you’re talking about.

Sometimes, when you’re sat in the exam and the clock is ticking, it’s tempting to second guess yourself, and just put down as much information as you possibly can because something you’ve written might hit the jackpot. But don’t be afraid to take a minute, think for a little bit, plan your answer and choose the information you want to write down carefully.

A considered, well thought through, detailed and in-depth answer will look far more impressive than a panicked and top-line response to a question that wanted candidates to go a little bit deeper. Don’t let the pressure of the exam stop you from doing yourself justice!

3. Be methodical when answering questions

When you sit down in your exam the adrenaline will probably start pumping, and this can make you speed up slightly. Speed is helpful but you don’t want to rush through the questions – stick to your timings and be methodical about your work.

Being consciously systematic and staying relaxed will ensure you’re thinking clearly about what you’re putting down, so you’ll make fewer mistakes and there won’t be loads to come back to and add or change at the end. Working steadily and breathing deeply will keep you calm, and will stop you from panicking should you encounter a difficult question. Stick to the game plan!


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4. Make sure you’re well practiced

Would you perform in a musical in the West End without rehearsing first? Definitely not. So why would you perform an exam without regular practice?

Past papers are absolutely crucial when it comes to preparing yourself for your exams for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, you can practice getting your timings right. Secondly, it makes the format and style of question totally familiar, so that you’ll feel less daunted by the real exam. Finally, practicing lots of answers and marking them yourself helps you commit things to memory and get your head around the mark scheme, so that you know what to do to get top marks.

Practice absolutely makes perfect, so make sure you’ve done plenty of test runs before it’s the real deal. We have plenty of past papers on Save Our Exams for you to try, so get downloading and get practicing!

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